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Your Environment. Your Health.

Device Improves Detection of Pollutants in Water and Sediment

Rolf Halden, Ph.D., Nancy Denslow, Ph.D.
Arizona State University
R01ES015445, R01ES020889

NIEHS-supported researchers have developed and tested a new device for detecting and analyzing pollution in water and sediment. The instrument provides information about the presence and relative risk of chemicals of concern while offering better accuracy, cost, and versatility than existing methods.

Today’s methods of collecting, preparing, and analyzing environmental samples can underestimate or overestimate a contaminant’s bioavailability, or the actual amount of the substance that can be taken up by animals or people and cause harm. The new device, called the in situ sampler for biphasic water monitoring (IS2B), directly determines pollutant bioavailability in samples collected over time periods of days to several weeks. It can analyze contaminants that are either fully dissolved or suspended as particulates in free-flowing surface water and those in the stagnant water found in sediment. Because it can be used in the field, IS2B also eliminates the need to transport water and sediment for analysis.

The researchers tested the device by deploying it in an engineered wetland to monitor the pesticide fipronil and its transformation products. They detected fipronil and its products at concentrations as low as 0.040 nanograms per liter. Their measurements of fipronil and its products were statistically indistinguishable from those determined by conventional, more laborious techniques.

Citation: Supowit SD, Roll IB, Dang VD, Kroll KJ, Denslow ND, Halden RU. 2016. Active sampling device for determining pollutants in surface and pore water — the in situ sampler for biphasic water monitoring. Sci Rep 6:21886.

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